How to Thrive Five Years in the Industry

Created by Jane Bartley

Buckle up: it’s officially the final podcast for Swipe for More, forever!

In the second instalment of our podcast series, Zoe and I discuss all things you need to know when you’re fully immersed in the media and communications industry. From returning to study to navigating the corporate career ladder, we draw upon industry insights and academic research to synthesise the best tips to help you thrive in the industry.

But first, let us slide into the podcast with our favourite segment: Swipe Right or Left!

1.     Reliving one of our favourite apps: Fruit Ninja’s success in the Australian media landscape (1:24) 

To kick things off Zoe and I take a trip down memory lane, discussing our highly beloved (and recently re-downloaded) app, Fruit Ninja! Amassing over one billion downloads by 2015, the app’s fruit slicing-fun effectively harnessed the mobile gaming market to achieve global success, ultimately becoming the second most popular game on the iOS platform in the world (first is Candy Crush, if you’re curious). While Fruit Ninja’s achievements are undeniably impressive, we discovered the app was made right here in Brisbane by Halfbrick Studios. To contextualise and appreciate Halfbrick Studio’s growth and subsequent success, Zoe and I discuss the dynamic, rapidly evolving Australian video games landscape.

As articulated by scholars John Banks and Stuart Cunningham in their 2016 research article, Creative Destruction in the Video Games Industry, video gaming has consistently played a significant role in this subsector of the Australian media industries, now embedded as a prominent part of the nation’s pop culture. For much of the early 2000’s, Australian video game developers primarily undertook work from technology companies based in the United States due to a shortage of resources and support from the local sector. As John Banks and Stuart Cunningham surmise, the rapidly transformative gaming industry meant app developers were required to continuously innovate and adaptively engage to have any chance at survival.

So, how did Halfbrick Studios break through this tumultuous industry? Zoe and I discuss Terry Flews and Christy Collis’ observations from World Entertainment Media: Global, Regional and Local Perspectives, where the authors identify the global financial crisis as a key period that enabled significant transformation of the Australian gaming sector – this disruptive period from 2007-2008 afforded small, independent developers to gain traction in the market. Specifically, as Zoe highlights, Halfbrick Studios was able to capitalise on the innovation lull that occurred as a result of the GFC.

We also consider an analysis conducted by academics John Banks, Stuart Cunningham and Daryl Woodford, noting that workplace organisation and workplace culture are two very important ingredients in the Halfbrick success story. As Zoe mentions, Halfbrick’s small, independent operations enabled the company to remain relevant within the media landscape through quickly capitalizing on pop culture trends. For example, when Drake’s 2015 song, Hot Line Bling was released, Halfbrick immediately created this hilarious meme of Drake’s dance moves overlayed with Fruit Ninja. Fruit slicing and dancing, what’s not to love?

Source: Instagram

2. Video games aren’t all fun and games: a reflection on the global industry (8:35)

Next up, Zoe and I take a step back and check out what has been occurring in the wider video game industry, both in Australia and around the world. Authors Terry Flew and Christy Collis highlight the Australian gaming industry’s tribulations aren’t just limited to a lack of financial support – strict Australian legislation has led to the banning of many games. In particular, while drug use and violence are allowed in movies and television shows (conditional on displaying the appropriate classification), the Australian Classification Board identifies user-generated ‘drug use’ in video games is inappropriate, citing illicit usage as the most common reason for the banning of certain games. But, is it sensible to ban video games on this criterion while excluding other entertainment modes?

Zoe and I discuss the moral root of this arguably hypocritical legislation, postured on the parallel, ongoing rhetoric that claims ‘violent video games cause violence’. We consider David Gauntlett’s notion of media effects, highlighting that the ban on drug use depiction in video games is akin to the moral panic surrounding violent video games. As Zoe mentions, Gauntlett postulates that people with increased aggressive behaviour may be more inclined to play violent video games, however, there is a lack of evidence suggesting destructive behaviour is caused by video game usage.

Want to find out more about what we discover? Take a listen to this segment to find out if there is any reason to be concerned about violent video games.

3. Good Design Awards (14:25) 

From worldwide video games to innovative start-up products, there is no doubt the Brisbane media industry is home to a wealth of talent. To celebrate the recently announced 2019 Good Design Awards, I put the spotlight on two Brisbane winners, Point Pod and Sortel. To find out more about these creative champions, check out this segment!

4. Brisbane MediaMap Event (16:52)

Get ready to party, Brisbane! After almost two decades of collaborative learning and producing excellent student resources here at QUT, MediaMap Brisbane is sadly coming to a close. To commemorate this incredible milestone, the MediaMap Events Team is planning a spectacular event (psst, you can check it out here!). We met up with two representatives of the team, Bridget and Zareen, to find out all the hot gossip on the upcoming event (spoiler alert: it involves a huge interactive cube…can you guess where it is being held?).

Check out this segment to catch all the exciting details and don’t forget to secure your free tickets here.

5. The benefits and pitfalls of returning to study (18:43)

Fun fact: According to the Deloitte 2019 Media and Entertainment Industry, 2020 is predicted to be a transformative year with the anticipated growth of augmented and virtual reality.

Not a fun fact: With a plethora of new technologies and trends, the transformative media landscape seldom offers any certainty. As media professional Janet Balis highlights, the changing dynamics of the media and entertainment industry means it is more critical than ever for professionals to understand how content creation, distribution and monetization methods are continuously challenged. As digital disruption permeates every aspect of the industry, how can you be sure your skills and knowledge remain relevant?

Well, never fear! Zoe and I fastened our scuba gear and dived deep into a discussion of returning to university, drawing upon industry insights and QUT resources to assess the potential benefits and pitfalls of returning to university.

If you’re considering honing your media and communications a little further, be sure to give this segment a listen and check out the QUT Career Educators page for additional tips.

6. Climbing the career ladder (26:29)

Before we go movin’ on out of MediaMap Brisbane, Zoe and I discuss movin’ on up in the workplace. How do you know when you’re ready to take on additional responsibilities? What is the best way to approach your company to climb up the career ladder? Zoe and I discuss all the best tips and tricks in how to navigate the workplace career ladder. At the risk of sounding clichéd, perhaps the fabulous artist M People said it best: Cause I’m movin’ on up, movin’ on up. Time to break free, nothin’ can stop me”.

And that’s a wrap! Thanks for listening to part two of our podcast, Swipe for More!


Like what you heard but itching to gain some extra information?

Check out these links below if you want to read any further on any of the articles and theory discussed in the podcast:

Halfbrick Studios success:

Halfbrick Studios

Fruit Ninja hits a billion downloads

Fruit Ninja’s Pop Culture Marketing Strategy

John Banks and Stuart Cunningham research article: Creative Destruction in the Australian video games industry

John Banks, Stuart Cunningham and Dary Woodford article: Innovation and workplace culture in the Australian interactive entertainment industry: The Halfbrick Story

Terry Flew and Christy Collis book chapter: Australian Entertainment Industries 


Australian Video Game Regulation:

Australia’s most recent video game ban

Australian Classification Board

The banning of We Happy Few

Christopher J. Ferguson: A study on video game violence and pseudoscience

David Gauntlett: Ten things wrong with the media ‘effects’ model

The Australian article: A spate of random murders committed by teens – a coincidence or a sign?

Christopher J. Ferguson: A study discussing the link between violent video games and aggression

Digital Australia 2020 Report: The Power of Video Games


Good Design Australia Awards

About the Good Design Australia awards

Winner 1: Point Pod

Winner 2: Sortel


The Effie Awards

The 2019 winners


Tips and Tricks regarding further study

Janet Balis: The top challenges and opportunities in media and entertainment

Deloitte 2019 Media and Entertainment Industry Report

Stephane Kasriel: The future of work won’t be about degrees, it will be about job skills

QUT Career Workshops for future study


Promotions and Leadership positions

Lisa Quast: How to tell if you’re ready for management responsibilities

The Communications Council: Q&A with Jess Hughes

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